Matthew Saxton January 29 th 2008 Testing Assumptions about the Input: Empirical Evidence on Negative Evidence
3 Errors in language acquisition defining feature of a language learner all (typical) children retreat from error but how?
4 Negative evidence evidence that a given structure is ungrammatical parental correction of child errors
5 No negative evidence problem longstanding assumption: parents do not correct their childrens errors no negative evidence
6 A basic premise of almost all work on language acquisition in a generative framework is that learning must progress without the aid of overt correction that is, the learner will not receive "negative evidence," in the form of adult feedback telling the child that his or her utterances do not conform with those of the adult grammar. Weissenborn, Goodluck & Roeper (1992, p.9)
7 Does it matter? no negative evidence assumption..... one of the most important discoveries in the history of psychology (Pinker, 1988, p.104)
8 Empirical support for APS parental Approval and Disapproval: Eve:Mama isnt boy, he a girl. Mother:Yes, thats right. (Brown & Hanlon, 1970)
9 There is not even a shred of evidence that approval and disapproval are contingent on syntactic correctness. Brown & Hanlon (1970, p.201)
10 signal of Disapproval informant meaningful look or pause explicit grammar lesson differential responding clarification requests direct contrast between child and adult forms Forms of correction
11 Beyond disapproval repeats of ill-formed utterances usually contained corrections and so could be instructive. Brown & Hanlon (1970, p.197)
12 Direct Contrast hypothesis Child:He was the baddest one. Adult:Yeah, he sounds like the worst. juxtaposition of erroneous and correct forms: unique discourse context child may perceive adult form as being in contrast with their own
13 Immune to correction? Anyone who has attempted to correct a two- year-olds grammar will know that it cant be done Jackendoff (1993, p.22)
14 Child:Nobody dont like me. Mother:No, say nobody likes me. Child:Nobody dont like me. [ repeated 8 times ] Mother:No, now listen carefully. Say NOBODY LIKES ME. Child:Oh, nobody dont likes me. McNeill (1966, p.69)
15 Diary study Matthew with Alex (aged 4 years) aim: deliberately correct childs errors and gauge effect
16 A:That.... that... that says you cant go there. M:Hmm. A:That says you cant go there. M:Why cant you go there? A:Cos thats the part who you / l /.... who you see.... M:Its the.... A:.... over. M:Its the part where you what? A:Where you look over.
17 A:Im easy to eat you up. M:You can eat me up easily? A:Yeah. M:What? A:I can eat you up.... [ bang ] M:I bet you cant. A:I bet you I.... I, I, I can. I bet you cant eat me up easily.
18 M:What you doing? A:Im rolling about. M:Youre spinning round, are you? A:Im rolling.... Im spinning around........ on your chair. M:Hmm.
19 M:You have to shut the doors / w / in winter. A:Yeah, but I dont want to. Its too bored if I shut the door every day. M:Its not boring. A:It is. M:What do you mean? A:What? M:Why do you say that? A:Because its.... because its.... too.... Its too boring.
20 A:I drawed a lovely picture for you, didnt I? M:You drew a picture? Where? A:I drew lots of lovely pictures.
21 A:I dont like Marmite. M:Mm, yummy. Course you like Marmite. You always have Marmite. A:But I dont... but I ^ gone off it now. M:You have not gone off it. A:I have. I have gone off it. I have. M:Well, youre a terror.
22 Effects of direct contrasts % switch from error to correct: Farrar (1992):12 - 45 Morgan et al. (1995):23 – 58 Saxton (2000): 8 Strapp & Federico (2000): 11
23 An experimental approach compare effects of positive versus negative input control over input information via novel verbs irregular past tense forms
24 Positive input any linguistic form modelled by an adult
25 Novel verbs longstanding paradigm (Berko, 1958) aim: isolate the effects of input
31 Empirical support I experimental and observational (Farrar, 1992; Saxton, 1997) mother, father, siblings (Strapp, 1999) working class (Post, 1992) immediate and longer-term effects (Saxton, 2000; Saxton et al., 2005)
32 Empirical support II beyond L1 English: French; Japanese; Korean (Chouinard & Clark, 2002; Izumi, 2002; OGrady & Lee, 2006) L2 acquisition (Mackey et al., 2003)
33 Theoretical status universality inevitability necessity
34 Mother eased out in many communities of the world, parents do not indulge their children in Motherese Pinker (1994, p.40) motherese is not a universal part of L1 acquisition Ayoun (2003, p.51)
35 Now just how crazy is dat? White folks uh hear dey kids say sumpn, dey say it back to em, dey aks em gain n gain bout things, like they posed to be born knowin. You think I kin tell Teegie all he gotta know? Aint no use me tellin him: learn dis, learn dat. Whats dis? Whats dat? He just gotta learn, gotta know (Heath, 1983, p.84). Trackton
36 Haggan (2002) the way people say they talk to children versus the way people actually talk to children
37 Myth of non-universality selective focus on anthropological data absent features of CDS absence of CDS in toto critical features that are present have been ignored
38 understanding of language is made easier by the habit that mothers and nurses have of repeating the same phrases with slight alterations Jespersen (1922, p.142) random affection for repetitiousness makes an excellent atmosphere in which the child acquires speech Mead (1930, p.35) Universality
39 Universal negative evidence Arabic, Danish, French, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Manus, Kiche Mayan, Samoan and English: every single child and every single structure examined so far (> 20 studies)
40 Inevitability recasts (including negative evidence): an artefact of conversation between a linguistic sophisticate and a cognitively naive learner adults naturally follow the childs lead
41 Necessity facilitative, yes necessary? onus on nativists to find even one deprived child
42 APS revisited no empirical support for no negative evidence assumption of little value in specifying principles of Universal Grammar
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